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See below for issue updates, organizing news, member action alerts, and more. 

National Town Hall Events for SEIU Members on COVID19 Vaccines

State Chapter Newsletter — February

Febraury 2021

● COVID19 Vaccinations. As you may know, SEIU is reminding all workers that they may want to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and has adopted 7 principals for the vaccination effort. The vaccines that are available will help make sure that all workers are protected. Together, we will work to bring an end to the pandemic.

● Chapter Update. The pandemic has dramatically impacted many members with the State of Ohio and countless workers have fallen ill with COVID19. Many members with the State of Ohio DRC and now DYS have also lost a co-worker or co-workers. Working together with member leaders, we have spoken out for additional personal protective equipment and safety measures as COVID19 has spread through the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction system, as well as other workplaces where members are represented with the State of Ohio. The Union has also emphasized the importance of work-from-home status for as many members as possible. While we recognize that this is an impossibility for many members, we believe that those members who are able to do so, should be able to continue to work remotely.

● American Rescue Plan. The American Rescue Plan would provide hundreds of billions of dollars for states, schools, and local governments. This funding is vital for public services and employers where members work. Send a message to your legislators about this important recovery plan

● Union Negotiations. Our Union sisters and brothers with OCSEA have already started bargaining. To keep the membership up to date as preparations and upcoming contract negotiations advance we are asking all state bargaining unit members to submit updated personal email addresses and contact information online. The member-led negotiating committee will meet again in February to confirm our preparations. 

● The Value of Union Membership and a Strong Chapter. We have heard reports that underscore the need to stand strong together and united for upcoming negotiations. Non-Union employees with the State of Ohio have already been forced to accept concessions with no recourse. Recent events show that bureaucrats with the State of Ohio will continue to try to balance the budget on the backs of us, the working class workers, even while many are on the frontlines in this crisis. If you or someone you know has not yet completed their membership application, know that they can easily sign a membership card online. By signing a membership card, new members are sending a firm signal to the State of Ohio that they are willing to stand united for improvements in their contract and will not sit idly by while their livelihoods and protections are attacked, devalued, and stripped away.

● Emergency Pay Class Action Grievance. SEIU District 1199 has filed a class action grievance for every member citing our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) language Article 35, Emergencies. We believe that the current state of emergency declared by Governor DeWine falls well within the intent of this language and that all members who work during this declared emergency are entitled to the $8 per hour stipend referenced in the CBA. Send a message to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and ask him to honor the contract and grant the emergency pay that was mutually agreed upon. We will continue to keep you updated as the grievance moves through the process. The State of Ohio has not provided available dates as of yet for this grievance to be heard.

● Educational Development Fund Update. On July 1st, the Educational Development Fund (EDF) for members of SEIU District 1199 renewed with an additional balance of $750,000 available for reimbursement. Additionally, $88,149.07 was left remaining at the end of FY20, which rolled over. As of January 16th, 33% of the balance remains available for reimbursement. Funding for the Educational Development Fund was negotiated by member leaders as a part of your collective bargaining agreement and is just one example of how your Union negotiates benefits for your collective good. 

● State of Ohio DRC Member Granted Retroactive Pay. A member with the State of Ohio received incorrect information from human resources regarding how to take leave, which led to an improper loss of leave time. The member worked with the Union to file a grievance and was reimbursed. Additionally, the member was granted a week of additional pay to compensate for costs that were incurred. 

SEIU District 1199 Member Benefits
Membership with SEIU District 1199 includes membership with three member benefit programs. Those programs include Union Plus, SEIU Member Benefits, and the SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH membership card. Members and eligible family members can now take classes with Eastern Gateway Community College at no-cost online. In 2019, Union Plus announced a new program with Central State University in Dayton, Ohio.

Member Resource Center – State of Ohio Chapter

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The Member Resource Center has provided assistance to a substantial number of members with the State of Ohio. Members have stood with their co-workers to win grievances, which relate to workplace health and safety, protection of the public, and fundamental fairness, among other issues. Representatives with the Member Resource Center are standing by to assist members. “Your Member Resource Center Has Your Back!”

 

Black History Month — February 2021

Support the American Rescue Plan

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Bold action is needed at the national level as we work to end the COVID19 pandemic. From the funding that is needed for the national vaccination effort to the importance of support for working families and a $15 an hour minimum wage, political leaders must act on behalf of the American people. 

The American Rescue Plan would address many of the demands of members of SEIU District 1199. This plan includes direct payments of $1,400 for those who are eligible, provides a temporary boost in unemployment benefits, extends a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through September, and grants funding for the national vaccination effort. The American Rescue Plan would also increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, send emergency funding to states, schools, and local governments, and support contact tracing.

Write to your members of the U.S. Congress to show your support for this important rescue plan. Together, we will speak out and make our voices heard. 

In Solidarity, 

Becky Williams — President 
SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH

Governor DeWine: Honor Our Contract

 Emergency Pay

Nurses at Cabell Huntington Hospital Vote Overwhelmingly to Ratify Union Contract Amid COVID19 Pandemic

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Nurses and Union leaders say that in addition to now having a voice on the job and the ability to speak out about quality care, organizing a Union allowed the nurses to negotiate improved insurance coverage and wages, which will strengthen staff retention and benefit nearly 1,000 workers and their families.

For Immediate Release: January 15, 2021
Press Contact: Joyce Gibson, jgibson@seiu1199.org, 304-654-0824

HUNTINGTON, West Virginia – Nurses and nurse practitioners with Cabell Huntington Hospital have overwhelmingly approved a three-year contract agreement with hospital executives. In the largest victory since West Virginia became a “right-to-work” state, the nurses voted to form a Union in November 2019.

Pam Waugh, a medical surgical RN said, “I have been a nurse for 29 years and a union contract gives my family security and peace of mind. I now have job security and do not have to worry my benefits will be taken away.”

With nearly 1,000 nurses and nurse practitioners represented in the bargaining unit and to ensure COVID-19 protocols, the workers voted in significant numbers in a two-day contract vote held at the Double Tree Hotel in Huntington, West Virginia. The vote started on Thursday, January 14th and concluded in the late evening on Friday, January 15th

“Nurses with Cabell Huntington Hospital stood united at the bargaining table and they were diligent in negotiating the details of this agreement,” said Joyce Gibson, Secretary-Treasurer with SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH. “Locally, these nurses are not just health care workers but family members, friends, and neighbors. That’s why this agreement is meaningful not just for these nurses but for the entire area,” said Gibson. “The new agreement ensures that these vital nurses will have job security and a voice for the patients they serve and it will strengthen quality care, in addition to wages and benefits,” concluded Gibson.

For over 40 years, registered nurses have worked side-by-side with SEIU members in every area of Cabell Huntington Hospital. Now, with a new contract agreement for nearly 1,000 registered nurses, the workers will have a stronger voice together.

Holly Bragg, an operating room nurse said: “In these uncertain times, with a national nursing shortage, we no longer have to worry about losing exceptional nurses who care for those in our community due to corporate restructuring and greed. Our nurses will now be able to take care of themselves so that they will be able to take care of others. We made history at Cabell Huntington Hospital and paved the way for nurses across the nation to stand up so that they may no longer be cast into the shadows, work dangerously short-staffed, and stripped of workplace benefits. We thank you, our community, for your support during our endeavors over the past year and look forward to providing you with excellent health care.”

SEIU District 1199 has represented workers with Cabell Huntington Hospital for over 40 years. In the largest victory since West Virginia became a “right-to-work” state, nurses at Cabell Huntington Hospital joined SEIU District 1199 in November 2019. Technical workers with Cabell Huntington Hospital joined SEIU District 1199 in February 2020.

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SEIU Member Forum on COVID-19 Vaccines

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On Friday, January 15th, there will be a nationwide forum for SEIU members on vaccines for COVID-19. This 75 minute forum will feature a video from a vaccine roundtable. Members from across the Union will also be able to ask questions about vaccine development, efficacy, and safety.

This forum will include Dr. Alicia Fernandez, a Professor of Medicine at UCSF and general internist at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Members can register for this forum and live Q and A online. Register for this event at this link, where you will also be able submit questions about the vaccines

As you may know, SEIU is encouraging all workers to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and has adopted 7 principals for the vaccination effort. The vaccines that are available will help make sure that all workers are protected. Together, we will work to bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Solidarity, 

Becky Williams — President 
SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to stay connected by phone and email. Members can make contact information updates online at any time. 

SEIU District 1199 Encourages All Members to get COVID-19 Vaccine

The Service Employees International Union has released seven principles that it is calling on employers, public health officials, and elected officials to follow during distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. The principles were proposed by a committee of local leaders representing SEIU members and adopted by the Union’s International Executive Board where I serve as Vice President.

The 7 principles for the vaccination effort are as follows:

1. Vaccines are a proven technology to prevent the spread of disease. The COVID vaccine is a critical tool to protect our families, ourselves, and our communities as we fight to put an end to this deadly virus. We encourage SEIU members to take the vaccine.
2. Vaccine distribution must be equitable and transparent and must prioritize communities hardest hit by the virus including essential workers, people with underlying health conditions and disproportionately impacted communities of color.  
3. Vaccines must be provided free of charge and workers should be provided with paid time off if the vaccination process requires them to miss work.
4. Employers must not use vaccines as a substitute for worker safety and infection control protocols nor for ensuring access to personal protective equipment.
5. Vaccine distribution plans must include education and outreach activities that involve essential workers and our communities deeply and meaningfully. 
6. Outreach and distribution plans must recognize the impact of structural racism in causing trauma and heightened levels of distrust about vaccination in Black and brown communities. 
7. The best approach to encouraging universal vaccination is through education and outreach, not through making vaccination mandatory.

SEIU District 1199 members across West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio, continue to call on government at all levels to take action to protect the health, safety, and financial security of working people. The principles outlined above are the latest step in working together to make sure that all workers are protected and so that we can bring an end to the COVID19 pandemic.

In Solidarity, 

Becky Williams President 
SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH

We Rise – Update Your Membership

An updated membership helps to ensure that our chapters and Union remain strong. We are stronger together.

Sign a Membership Card
The membership form is available online.  Membership also provides access to the Union’s benefit programs, a free community college benefit, an annual scholarship program, and more. 

Visit the membership form online to submit a new membership or update/renew. 

Take Action — Nursing Home Workers Need a Bill of Rights

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SEIU District 1199 Staff Give Back and Issue Holiday Donations

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SEIU District 1199 staff recently approved holiday donations to charities across West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio. The funding for these donations was gathered through voluntary staff contributions. 

Donations are being issued to the following organizations and causes:

$250 to the Dayton AFL-CIO Pantry
$250 to the Cincinnati Freestore Food Bank
$250 to the God’s Pantry in Kentucky
$250 to the Facing Hunger in Huntington
$250 to Central Ohio Worker’s Center
$250 to Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley
$250 to Second Harvest of Mahoning Valley
• $500 to the City Mission Shelter in Cleveland
• $500 to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank
• $500 to the Toledo Food Bank
$1,000 to Genesis House Shelter in Lorain

$1,000 to Women’s Resource Center in Beckley
$1,000 to the Turning Point Domestic Violence Services in Prestonsburg, Kentucky

Cleveland Nursing Home Workers Hold Solidarity Event at Cityview Nursing Home

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Workers will gather to hold ribbons while sharing their experiences and working conditions amid the COVID19 pandemic.

Staff Contact: Samara Knight – (216) 246-8772
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

CLEVELAND, OHIO – Nursing home workers with Cityview Nursing and Rehabilitation will gather on Wednesday, December 16th from 11AM to 1PM in remembrance and to share their experiences amid the COVID19 pandemic. The event will follow protocols for COVID19.

WHAT: Event With Frontline Nursing Home Workers in Cleveland, Ohio
WHERE: Cityview Nursing Home at 6606 Carnegie Avenue
WHEN: Wednesday, December 16th from 11AM to 1PM

“This pandemic has had a dramatic impact on these frontline workers. Workers have always struggled in the nursing home industry with low wages and short staffing,” said Samara Knight, an Executive Vice President with SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH. “These workers have heroically worked through this crisis. It’s critical that they have a voice,” continued Knight. “We haven’t beaten the pandemic yet but it has to be a call to action to improve this industry. In the meantime, nursing home workers need hazard pay for the work they are doing,” concluded Knight.    

To date, Ohio Department of Health data shows that 30,219 nursing home residents have contracted COVID19, in addition to 20,822 nursing home workers. Currently, as of December 11th, Ohio Department of Health data shows that 4,689 nursing home residents and 3,082 nursing home workers have active COVID19.

At Cityview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Ohio Department of Health data states that as of December 11th, 16 nursing home residents and 14 nursing home workers have contracted COVID19 since April 15th. As reported by the Columbus Dispatch on December 10th, in Ohio, 4,074 people have lost their lives in nursing homes and long-term care facilities since the start of the pandemic.

Take Action — Working People Need Relief

 Essential Workers Prayers

Nursing Home Workers Face Staffing and PPE Shortages as COVID19 Cases Increase Among Staff and Residents

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CMS data and analysis by AARP and the Ohio University Scripps Gerontology Center show that nursing workers and their facilities need additional support with protective equipment and staffing.

Staff Contact: Anthony Caldwell at (877) 419-7348
For Immediate Release: Monday, December 14th, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Data shows persistent shortages of essential PPE items and staffing shortages continue as COVID19 cases increase in Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and nationwide.

“According to the Ohio Department of Health, as of December 11th, 30,219 nursing home residents in Ohio have tested positive for COVID19 since April 15th. Additionally, 20,822 nursing home workers have tested positive for the virus in that same period,” said Becky Williams, President of SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH. “As of the latest update from the Ohio Department of Health, 4,689 nursing home residents had COVID19 and 3,082 nursing home staff members had active COVID19,” Williams continued.

Data from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is regularly being analyzed by AARP, recently showed the following for the four week period ending on 11/15/20:

• In Ohio, 28.9% of nursing homes did not have a one week supply of all PPE during the 4 week period ending on 11/15/20. During that same time period, 36.6% of nursing homes had a shortage of direct care workers.  
• 
In West Virginia, 35.2% of nursing homes did not have a one week supply of all PPE items during the 4 week period ending on 11/15/20. During that same time, 13.9% of nursing homes had a shortage of direct care workers.  
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In Kentucky, 21.8% of nursing homes did not have a one week supply of all PPE items during the 4 week period ending on 11/15/20. During that same time, 28.4% of nursing homes in Kentucky had a shortage of direct care workers.

“While vaccination efforts ramp up, nursing home workers need support, whether that means governmental aide at the national level for the industry as a whole or assistance with protective equipment, hazard pay, and staffing shortages regionally,” said Becky Williams. “Nursing home workers often do not make a living wage for the work that they do and they have been bravely caring for nursing home residents in this crisis,” Williams concluded.

SEIU District 1199, a healthcare and social service union, represents thousands of nursing home workers across West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio.

View the AARP Public Policy Institute COVID19 Nursing Home Dashboard

“Ohio National Guard now in 13 state prisons after uptick in COVID-19 cases among staffers.”

“Union supports remote work for state employees.”

Statement From SEIU District 1199 President Becky Williams on the Death of Casey Goodson Jr.

COLUMBUS, OHIO – Statement From Becky Williams, President of SEIU/1199 in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky & International Vice President of the SEIU, on the Death of Casey Goodson Jr. 

“I am outraged by the constant attacks on people of color in our country. People of color cannot walk on our streets or be a part of society without the fear of being profiled, attacked, brutalized or murdered. It is horrific that we as a society are not bringing justice and equity to people that have been marginalized because of the color of their skin. It is heartbreaking to see another young black man go home in a body bag.” 

“As the mother of a biracial daughter, the grandmother of a Black grandson, and as an organizational leader in a diverse Union, I know firsthand that racism is alive and well in our society and here in the great buckeye state.”

“Ohio should be a place where all people are able to succeed and live equally, with full equity. Yet, racism and discrimination are embedded into every fiber of our society, including our courts and policing, forcing people of color to continue to suffer due to racial inequities.” 

“An impartial review of these events is the only way to understand what happened in regards to Casey Goodson Jr. and a full comprehensive analysis of inherent biases and racism throughout the system is our only hope of systemic change.” 

Statement on Recent COVID19 Cases Among Staff at Ohio DRC Facilities

SEIU District 1199 continues to encourage work-from-home status for as many workers as possible, especially as community spread and COVID19 transmission increase, which may result in greater risk to workers with the State of Ohio.

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, December 9th, 2020 
For more information, contact: Joshua Norris at (877) 419-7348

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Between November 8th (view data) and December 9th (view data) reports from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction show that 1,232 staff members with ODRC have tested positive for COVID19. “Workers with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction are going to work every day and system-wide over 1,232 staff members have tested positive for COVID19 since November 8th,” said Joshua Norris, an Executive Vice President with SEIU District 1199. “As of November 8th, there were just 1,700 staff cases but there have been 2,932 staff cases at present,” continued Norris.  

“Facilities with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction have reported 2,932 positive tests among staff with over 120 lives lost, including 7 staff members,” said Norris. “Public employees with the State of Ohio have been bravely working on the frontlines of this crisis,” continued Norris.  

SEIU District 1199 continues to advocate for as many members as possible to be granted work-from-home status, especially given the recent spread of COVID19. Heightened levels of community spread may result in increased COVID19 cases in such settings and increase transmission of the virus among staff and others.

SEIU District 1199 represents health care workers and staff members who provide services on behalf of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. SEIU District 1199 also represents workers with OhioMHAS Recovery Services.

Update — Ohio House Committee Passes the Reagan Tokes Act

APA Hearing
Today, we cleared one of the final hurdles of passing the Reagan Tokes Act into law, which would make long-awaited reforms to post-release control and giving frontline parole officers a seat at the table on a newly created committee designed to make recommendations.

Now, we need you to activate your networks of colleagues, family, friends and other supporters of parole reform to call on members of the Ohio House of Representatives to pass House Bill 215 before the end of the year.

Click here to send an email to your State Representative right now asking them to vote for House Bill 215 (The Reagan Tokes Act) and then share it with anyone you know.

Don’t let the hard work of our Union parole officers go to unfinished. We need everyone to take this opportunity to have your voices heard on this important legislation.

In Solidarity,

Josh Norris, Executive Vice President
Kristie Branch, Ohio State Chapter Director